KUALA LUMPUR: Institutions of higher learning have been urged to provide equal opportunities and rights to students with disabilities to gain access to learning and experiencing normal campus life like other students.

Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi (pix), who represents Persons with Disablities (PwD) in the Senate, said disabilities should not be an excuse to deny students their right to tertiary education and a degree.

“I learnt that some PwD students did not want to declare their disabilities in their university admission applications over concerns they would not be accepted due to their disabilities. In fact, the selection of courses for PwD students can be said to be limited.

“Such a thing should not happen as PwDs also want to learn like everyone else. So don’t discriminate or stigmatise students with disabilities who have rights as members of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ and Malaysians to study,” she said during a Coffee Talk @OUM discussion organised by Open University Malaysia (OUM) today.

Ras Adiba, who is also OKU Sentral president, said universities need to prepare suitable access including infrastructure and services needed by students with disabilities for the sake of their welfare.

She said the facilities should not only involve infrastructure like disabled-friendly buildings and classes, but involve a support system for their teaching and learning processes.

This includes exemptions or flexibility given to students with disabilities, such as extra time during examinations and taking examinations in separate areas due to special needs.

“That’s why I’ve repeatedly told PwDs that we are not the cause of these weaknesses, but there is a lack of facilities and support around us that would help us live normal lives,” she said.

Meanwhile, OUM senior lecturer Dr Wong Huey Siew, who is visually impaired, urged PwDs to look for opportunities to further their studies to improve themselves and secure a better future.

“Now PwDs do not have such challenging obstacles compared to the past to gain a good education. So to add value to yourself and to compete with others, take the opportunities available today to further your studies.

“As compared to previously, there are many opportunities now, find a suitable institution, because only we ourselves can change our lives. So let’s grab this opportunity and don’t sit around without doing anything, as you’ll end up with nothing,” he said. — Bernama